Improvisation is an important dance skill that many modern day choreographers care about. It is becoming more and more common to freestyle or improv at the end of an audition combo so the casting directors get a feel for your personal style. However, as dancers we are used to our teachers teaching choreography and being told what exact movements to do and when. We turned to JJGirl and dance superstar, Jacalyn Tatro, and asked her what her thoughts and advice on improvisation are. Check out what Jacalyn told us below:
“My initial reaction whenever my teacher says to improv is immediately “AHHHH OH MY GOSH WHAT DO I DO?!”. Like most younger dancers, improv is still something that completely terrifies me and is something that I strive to grow in and continue to feel comfortable with in my own skin. By no means am I a professional at this skill and I’ll be the first to say I need loads of help and guidance on this technique. I have learned so much over the years though, and I’ve grown with my ability to improv and feel comfortable with movement. So… here are some of my own personal tips with improv that I have learned over my time as a dancer that I would LOVE to share with you:
1. Don’t judge yourself. There is no right or wrong in improv, so never let yourself get uncomfortable with your own movement choices. Your choices are BEAUTIFUL, and they’re your own unique ideas. Never let yourself or anyone get inside your head and bring you down.
2. Never improv to “impress”. The dance world has become very heavy with “tricks” and more often then not (based on what I’ve experienced), teachers and choreographers are looking for what makes you different and special. Kicks and turns and jumps are the standards and sure are impressive, but focus on even more than that! Trust your movement and push your limits!!!
3. Feel the music and be the music. As dancers, it’s almost too easy to immediately go into our comfort zone and pull out solid contemporary movement, but we don’t realize that the song that’s playing is super upbeat and jazzy…. not a good mix!! Be sure to always take a couple seconds to get the music’s vibe and mood in your body so you match your movement to the music appropriately. Look out for any constant accents that may occur in the music, or any notes in the songs that stand out that you could make a pop or accent in your movement as well. Feel the beat!!”